The Canadian Rangers have once again turned their collective eyes across the Atlantic for a rifle. However, this time around the volunteer force has gazed a tick north of the British Isles.
Sako, Finnish subsidiary of Beretta Holdings, recently delivered 125 prototype Tikka T3 Compact Tactical rifles to the Rangers. The bolt-action rifles will go through evaluations now until the end of 2015. Then, it is expected, that some 6,500 of the .308 Winchesters will be produced and phased into use by the surveillance/scouting force between 2016 and 2018.
The new Sakos replace a true icon of 20th Century battle rifles, the Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk. 1. The Canadian Rangers procured the rugged, battled-tested arms shortly after the force was formed in 1947 as military surplus from World War II.
The original lot of the rifles, chambered .303 British, served up to this point, but dwindling stocks and replacement parts forced the search for a replacement. What is certain to make many collectors break into tears is it has been reported the old Lee Enfields are set for destruction by the Canadian government.
While the design for the new Canadian Rangers' rifle comes from Finland, it will be produced on this side of the pond. T3s will be made under license by Colt Canada, which is set to add up to 30 new employees for the project.
The Tikka rifle has a number of Canadian modifications to help it in the harsh arctic conditions in which it will operate. These include: larger bolt handle and trigger guard to accommodate gloved hands, protected front and rear sights, laminated stock, a two-stage trigger, and a three position safety.
The rifles will come with a number of ancillary supplies, including: a Pelican hard transport case; cleaning kit, sling and soft transport case from Rampart International; and a trigger lock from The Old Co-Op.